Field reports from Ohio Division of Wildlife officers
Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
State Wildlife Officer John Coffman, assigned to Fayette County, was patrolling Deer Creek Wildlife Area when he received a tip that two individuals were cast netting for non-forage fish out of Deer Creek. Officer Coffman was able to contact the individuals, who were found to have netted all the fish in their possession. Neither individual had a valid Ohio fishing license, and both had taken white bass with their cast nets. They were issued the appropriate summonses for their violations.
In March, State Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, received a call from a concerned citizen about a trumpeter swan that had an object stuck on its bill. The caller advised that the swan was still capable of flight. Officer Irish located the swan in a flooded field. After two failed attempts, he was able to capture the bird and safely remove the object. The swan hissed at him and flew off unharmed.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
In early February, State Wildlife Officer Levi Farley, assigned to Paulding County, collaborated with students who were enrolled in an after-school program at Grover Hill Elementary. The students had been learning about helping their community and Officer Farley educated them on the benefits of birds. Officer Farley explained that Paulding County has numerous natural areas where students could enjoy time outdoors. After the lesson, the students were encouraged to come up with a way they could support wildlife. With help, they built and painted bird houses to hang on their school’s campus and donate to other spots in the county. Once students completed their projects, Officer Farley visited the school to thank the staff for encouraging student interest in wildlife and assisted in hanging the bird houses. This was a great opportunity for Officer Farley to connect with and encourage the next generation of outdoor stewards.
In April, State Wildlife Officer Charles McMullen, assigned to Sandusky County, received a call from the Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline that an individual was keeping bass that fell below the minimum length requirement along the Sandusky River in Tiffin. Upon arriving on the scene, Officer McMullen observed an individual matching the description received in the report. The angler was standing on a dam in the middle of the river and Officer McMullen called to him to shore. A yellow stringer of harvested fish was found to belong to the individual. The stringer held seven smallmouth bass, all under the legal minimum length of 14 inches. The suspect was issued summonses for possessing undersized bass and for having two fish over the daily limit. He paid $205 in fines and court costs.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
During the statewide muzzleloader season in January 2022, State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, investigated a complaint about hunting without permission. Officer Frank observed an individual operating an ATV and leaving a hunting blind on the complainant’s property. Officer Frank pursued the hunter and discovered the individual with a loaded firearm. A summons was issued. In court, over $715.00 in fines and court costs were paid.
During the 2021-22 white-tailed deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, and Wildlife District Three Manager Scott Angelo were on patrol in Jefferson County. They focused on an area known to have trespassing issues. The officers discovered a total of nine individuals hunting without permission. Each of the nine hunters was issued a summons for their offense and ordered to pay $330 in fines and court costs.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
State Wildlife Officer Chris Dodge, assigned to Hocking County, and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Dan Perko were patrolling O’Dowd Wildlife Area during the 2021 white-tailed deer gun season. The officers stopped to check a large group of deer hunters who had finished a hunt and were moving on. The officers discovered two loaded rifles in one of the vehicles. While gathering information for summonses, another group of hunters stopped to ask questions. One of those individuals had a loaded shotgun in the front seat of his vehicle. Officer Dodge issued three summonses to the different parties for hunting deer by the aid of a motor vehicle. The defendants pleaded guilty in Hocking County Municipal Court and paid a combined $825 in fines and court costs.
In early 2022, State Wildlife Officer Jeff Berry, assigned to Muskingum County, received a complaint about someone snagging fish at Dillon Dam. Officer Berry located the individual and observed him for some time from the shoreline near the dam. Officer Berry documented the individual’s activities and watched him snag a channel catfish by the caudal fin. Officer Berry issued a citation for snagging gamefish. The individual appeared in Muskingum County Court and was ordered to pay $100 in fines and court costs. Court records indicated that this individual had a previous charge for fishing without a license, so he also received a one-year fishing license revocation.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
State Wildlife Officer Houston Wireman, assigned to Champaign County, observed a cyclist in distress on the Simon Kenton Bike Trail. The cyclist was lying motionless in the middle of the trail and was conscious when Officer Wireman arrived but in a lot of pain. The cyclist stated that he did not want medical attention. Officer Wireman drove the cyclist and his belongings back to his vehicle. A few days later, the cyclist contacted Officer Wireman to state his appreciation. The cyclist advised he had been checked out at an emergency room. He’d had X-rays taken and discovered that both his hip and scapula were fractured. The cyclist was thankful for Officer Wireman’s professional, courteous, and resourceful assistance after his accident.
On Thanksgiving morning last fall, State Wildlife Officer Benjamin Smith, assigned to Brown County, was patrolling Indian Creek Wildlife Area. Ten minutes before legal hunting hours, Officer Smith heard two gunshots. Officer Smith drove toward the location of the shots and observed a hunter carrying a pheasant through a field. He contacted the hunter, who was cooperative but was found to have shot the bird outside legal shooting hours. The hunter was charged with hunting before sunrise and paid a fine of $126.